Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price

Title: Hemovore
Edition: 2, re-edited with additional content, including the bonus 30-page novelette, Sweet
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Length: 96,000 words
ISBN: 978-1-935540-88-5
Publisher: JCP Books
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
Official Website: http://jcpbooks.com/ebook/hemovore

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All other retailers https://books2read.com/u/47kL6j


Mark Hansen thought working as artist’s assistant would be glamorous, especially if that artist was a vampire. Black tie events, witty repartee, gracing the pages of the local style section…. Didn’t happen. Not even once.   

Jonathan Varga is an enigma. True, he’s quiet, generous, and scrupulously polite. But he has zero social life, refuses to be interviewed or photographed, and insists he can only consume feline blood.

Why supermarket blood won't suffice, Mark hasn’t asked. He’s rarely at a loss for words—he can dish an insult and follow it with a snap as quick as you can say “Miss Thang.” But one look at Jonathan’s black-as-sin gypsy eyes, and Mark’s objections drain away.

So he endures the perpetual grind of their routine: Jonathan hiding in his studio, swiping black paint onto black canvases. Mark hurling insults while he buffs the office to a shine with antiviral wipes. Each of them avoiding the other in a careful choreography…until a blurb in Art in America unleashes a chain of harrowing events.

As secrets from Jonathan’s past are brought to light, it becomes clear that all his precautions weren’t nearly enough.

(First edition originally published in 2009. Second expanded edition includes the bonus novelette, Sweet.)

Hemovore Under the Hood - Character

Quirky vs. Annoying

It’s a fine line, I think, between a memorable character with a distinctive voice, and a character who annoys a reader so badly that they have to go have an Internet rant at the author’s expense. The fact that many popular characters delight some readers while making other readers cringe goes to show that intriguing and annoying are in pretty close proximity of each other on the target range.

I did a lot of tweaking with Mark Hansen to make sure he had a strong personality without turning people off. Because the story is in his first-person viewpoint, it was critical the reader cared about him, and looked on his flaws as tolerable and understandable rather than turn-offs.

He’s smart and resourceful and he knows it. One woman in my early writing group was really turned off by his, “I’ve got to do everything around here?” attitude. I opted not to tone it down, but to try to show the reason he was such a perfectionist, and to add some humor to it so that it was funny and over-the-top if he cleaned the same thing three times, and then psyched himself out into doing it yet again.

Designer clothes were always a big part of his persona, because pretty much any guy will look awesome in the right suit. I saw Mark, like myself, as someone who’d really love to be in shape, but despite the good intentions, can’t quite manage. He makes up for his insecurity about his looks by being a clothes snob. Originally, I’d stopped there. But pretty soon I realized it was a good opportunity to add another humanizing element to him, and I tweaked the story so that not only did he love fine clothes, but he was spending beyond his means to have them. (Probably dangerously close to making him a wallbanger, but the whole story went to another level when I decided he and Jonathan weren’t well-to-do. Another post on wealth in fiction later this week.)

Giving Mark the personality traits of being confident and critical shaped his arc for the whole story. He begins as someone in charge of his life, and then the control is taken away from him and he needs to learn how to rely on someone else—Jonathan. (Who turns out to be frighteningly competent in his own way, which I think is a 180 that readers will enjoy.) Ultimate control is then taken from him when he’s injured and needs to be hospitalized.
In the final third of the book, Mark needs to rally even though his entire world is upside down and make sure Jonathan isn’t found guilty of the crimes he’s been framed for. The experiences he’s had to that point have made him even stronger, even more resourceful than he ever knew he was—and a new and deep-down trust of himself allows him to ensure the safety of him and the people he cares about once and for all. If you compare Mark from this portion of the novel to earlier, you’ll see he’s less talk and more action. It’s as if hardship has grown him into the person he always thought he was.

4.5 Stars

Mark Hansen has been working as vampire artist Jonathan Varga's assistant for 4 years and he's no closer to knowing him now than he was back when he started, although he's learned a lot of his eccentricities even if he has no clue of the reason behind them. But as secrets of Jonathan's past life begin seeping into their present, those particularities will start to make sense, even if they might not be enough to fend off a formidable enemy.

Mark is a quirky, witty and doesn't seem to take himself too seriously and Jonathan is almost his exact opposite, composed, quiet and polite. He doesn't seem to think much of Mark, at least not until they are put in harm's way and his true feelings come to light. While I have to admit I didn't feel that much chemistry between them at first, that changed the more the book advanced, and I ended up loving them together, especially after the very sweet novelette at the end of the book.

I don't really read all that much paranormal any longer, especially vampire books, not because I don't want to, but because after years of reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction, I just felt as if it all followed a certain line. The blurb for Hemovore seemed fun, fresh and fairly original, though, so I said why not? And let me tell you, I'm really happy I decided to read it. 

This book had a perfect balance of suspense/action that kept me wondering how things would work, along with a very original take on vampires and how they contracted the 'disease' and a great array of characters, both the very likable leads and the almost too evil villain that probably wouldn't have worked in another kind of book, but a paranormal. Overall, a very entertaining, recommendable read!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

Author Bio

Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal sci-fi thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to rural small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, "light as a feather, stiff as a board," girls with tattoos and boys in eyeliner.
Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who's plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her mind-bending trilogy Mnevermind, where memories are made...one client at a time.

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